Heavy backpack

January 19, 2020 § 6 Comments

I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday to get some ingredients for dinner. I don’t go there very often because I have to go down the hill. Time was that it was easy to go there. I never thought about it much. I just got in the car, drove down the hill, and did my shopping.

Man, are those days long gone. Trader Joe’s is a big deal now because whatever you buy there you have to carry back up the hill. The worst thing in the world is milk, a gallon of milk. That shit is heavy. But you don’t think about it when you were sitting in a car pressing down on a little metal pedal. I can’t believe we used to go to Trader Joe’s because the milk was one dollar cheaper than the supermarket across the street. It takes a lot more than a dollar to get me to ride my bike up that fucking hill now.

That’s not the only way my shopping has changed. Now I will go to the store and buy a carrot and a clove of garlic and a pepper and an onion and some butter. People look at you funny when you’re standing in line with the carrot, singular. “What the hell is that guy doing with a carrot and an onion?”

But I look at the other shoppers the same way. “What in the hell are they doing with a basket load full of food that would feed a small village when they are already fifty pounds overweight?”

That’s how I look at people in the supermarket parking lot, too. They are carrying all that food and buying all that crap simply because they have limitless horse power to carry it back home. If they had to carry a fraction of it on their back even on flat ground, they wouldn’t buy hardly any of it.

Anyway, I got home, or almost home, because I still had to stop at the supermarket across the street. Trader Joe’s didn’t have the right kind of peppers I was looking for. So I went into the store and bought a pepper. It cost twenty-two cents.

I was sweaty and hungry as hell. It took another 40 minutes or so to make dinner. Everything tasted so good. As Cervantes said, “hunger is the best sauce.”

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A little desert knife-sharpening

January 16, 2020 § 3 Comments

My friends Joy and Brian McCulloch are hosting a training camp on Feb. 20-23 in Palm Springs.

If you’ve done team training camps before you know what a waste of time they can be. Everyone arrives all excited, there’s a long speech about how the rides will go, there will be a lot of emphasis on training, and two miles into the first ride it will be a full-on race.

People will get shelled, then pissed, then bonked as they straggle back in ones and twos complaining of their woe. Much shit will be talked, there will be another couple of speeches, maybe some yoga, and the next day everyone will promise to be good.

On Day Two everyone will stay together and ride 2×2 for the first twenty minutes. Then the bombs will get dropped, grenades tossed, artillery will start firing, and strafing will commence. Those who arrived fit will destroy those who came to get fit. At day’s end there will be lots of preening served with big helpings of humble pie.

Everyone will go home wondering why they went.

Sound familiar? Read on, because Joy and Brian don’t run training camp that way. At all. This event will consist of four days modeled after their favorite pro team training camps, with extra components including a 200km fondo-style ride, a recovery lounge, training/coaching discussions that actually relate to your goals and issues, as well as group meals designed to riders make the first big step to achieving their spring and summer goals.

There will be long and medium route options each day, so riders can join the group that suits their fitness as well as their goals. The camp will not be a one-size-fits-all.

Big Wheel Coaching has been helping cyclists achieve their goals for ten years and counting. Head coach Joy McCulloch is a former teacher, professional MTB/Road racer, and is Level 1 USA Cycling coach. Besides the athletes she works with daily, USA Cycling contracts with Joy to instruct intermediate level coaches, with a focus on skills development and training plan design.

If you’ve raced or been around the scene in SoCal for any length of time you’ve met Joy or raced against her. She’s more than a badass on the bike; she’s a mom and a fun person to be around. I’ve always found her friendly, approachable, and absolutely lacking in the arrogance that often accompanies elite athletes.

Brian is a USA Cycling Certified Level 2 Coach and has coached juniors, masters, and everything in between. Brian is also a certified badass on the bike, and currently works as a professional road cyclist competing internationally and domestically. For the last ten of his eleven pro seasons, he’s been with Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, where he’s the road captain. Elevate-KHS has been the winningest team in America every year for the last decade. So like he kind of knows his shit.

This unparalleled experiences is one of the arrows in his coaching quiver that Brian uses to teach race fundamentals and give one-on-one instruction to help racers apply these tactics throughout their racing season.

That’s all pretty awesome, but I’ve know Brian for years and can tell you something even more important about him: He is a tremendously friendly and upbeat guy. His first question is always, “How’s your riding going?” He really wants to hear, and he remembers what you say. Want his opinion? He gladly shares it. Just want to tell him what a badass you are? He listens.

There aren’t many current pro cyclists who have his pro level people skills and genuine interest in promoting the sport and promoting the goals of everyone who bothers to have them.

So, what are you actually going to, you know, learn at the camp?

Joy and Brian know that lessons are best absorbed in a fun environment. Proper training incorporates endurance/aerobic development as well as honing the specific anaerobic energy systems required to be a well-rounded cyclist. Camp will blend both concepts, integrating long bouts of endurance-paced training with short bursts of intensity to stimulate all aspects of performance. In a single, hyphenated word: “Multi-dimensional.”

The best cyclists also know that skill development is crucial to their success. Rides will utilize peloton-style riding in which riders will have the opportunity to share the work helping them go faster, train better, and achieve more. This group energy, guided by coaches, ensures every rider gets what they come for, with stronger riders pulling longer (not harder, a more challenging workout!), while riders building their foundation get the benefit of sustaining a consistent pace that develops their aerobic engine far more than can be done solo or in the typical free-for-all slugfest of the local group ride.

Riders will get daily 1-on-1 coach instruction before, during, and after training rides in order to ensure lessons learned are absorbed and fitness is built properly.

Camp is held near Palm Springs California, an area that is mostly flat to rolling terrain, and that is world famous for its sunny and warm winter weather. The dry and warm climate makes the location ideal for what is essentially their version of a big-miles spring training camp. Nor is the absence of huge elevation an oversight. Over years of coaching Joy and Brian have identified that producing power over flat terrain is the Achilles heel of most cyclists. Over the four-day training camp riders will experience and develop this critical element of their fitness which will serve them in every aspect of their cycling. Where climbing is generally followed by rest (the downhill or a pause at the top of the climb), training on flat terrain requires you to continually produce power, developing a depth of fitness not available to those training predominantly in the mountains.

Benjamin Franklin once said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” This camp is focused on doing and on involvement. Instruction is backed up with quality saddle time so that the lessons and experience are carried over into the rest of the season. This hands-on approach teaches riders the nuances necessary to apply what they learn across all facets of their riding. Cyclists often equate big volume with increased fitness; the challenge is to blend quality and volume, a difficult balance to strike. Rather than junk miles and chasing saddle time, riders will benefit from the principle of over-load training, which when balanced with proper post-ride recovery, will help riders handle this big block of training and spring-board into their 2020 goals.

Sound like this might be the right camp for you?

You can sign up HERE.

Or HERE.

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South Bay #fakenews 1/14/20

January 14, 2020 § 9 Comments

*Warning!! What follows is NOT TRUE. It is “satire and/or parody.” Please do not consume if you are easily offended or if you are not skilled at reading.*

Local coffee shops rush to sponsor bicycle clubs. After a thrilling shoutypants featuring failed 1970s disco king Tony Orlando and Dawn, several South Bay coffee shops have signed on as sponsors for area clubs. According to Jared Jared, owner of Catalina Coffee Cartel, “We was looking out the window last Saturday and saw fourteen dozen cyclists congregating around a drunk dude with spindly legs while he and his girlfriend were yelling the heck out of some other coffee shop’s customers. It was some real tough guy, badass yelling and we thought, hey, we’d like in on that action so we done signed on with a club called Big Origin. You heard of them?”

Tony Orlando shoutypantsing Dawn

Clubs merge, form Big Origin. Two social media powerhouses of the South Bay have fused to form a mega-fashion-social-media-punk-poser-occasional-cycling club. The new group, Big Origin, will feature four star riders, Punkin Spice, Salty Spice, Hawt Choklit Spice, and Mistress Spice. There will be a team launch and coffee spilling next Saturday at an as-yet-unnamed local cafe.

Team Big Origin Kit Reveal

Origin expels sole woman rider for vaginifying club. Local rider “F.K.” was recently expelled from punk cycling fashion club Origin for what club boss Dawn and Underwriter of All Things Origin, Tony Orlando, described as “unacceptable vaginification.” According to sources, F.K. was seen doing numerous hard rides, dropping male riders, and otherwise crossing the “dick line” that generally prohibits female riders from behaving in ways that might suggest physical and/or mental superiority to club penises. When CitSB spoke with F.K. about her expulsion, she shrugged. “Tiny hands, right?”

Notorious B.I.G. Orange admits gang affiliation. More than three years after Palos Verdes Estates activist Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., accused cycling club Big Orange of operating as a criminal organization, club president Lambo Seyranian sent out an email self-identifying the group as a “gang.” A federal gang task force has been set up to investigate alleged money laundering and racketeering by selling ugly leftover 2019 kits, of which there are allegedly thousands. The kit profits were used to fund criminal stop-sign running activities throughout the South Bay.

Incriminating Document!!

IHOP to buy BWR. Restaurant chain IHOP announced yesterday that it intends to buy the Belgian Waffle Ride. After a bidding war between International House of Pancakes and Waffle House, IHOP emerged victorious, purchasing all rights to the event for an undisclosed sum that is reportedly greater than twelve dollars. IHOP CEO Maple Sirrah was quoted as saying, “The Waffle was scorching our bottom line. In order to defend the pancakes, we had to fry the Waffle.” In 2021 the event will be known as the American Pancake Ride, featuring 15-mile, 6-mile, and 200-yard routes, held at the CBR Dominguez Hills course. Promoter Jeff Archbishop promises that “Participants will get their money’s worth, just like at my crits. The APR early bird rate is $350, with which you’ll also get the option to purchase an American Pancake Breakfast for $187, an APR finisher’s tee for $98.88, an APR beer mug for $76, and a case of Carson Municipal Supply Craft Water for $123, which normally goes for $124. We’ll also be offering a Beginning Pancaker Program, where new pancakers can learn the route at a discounted price of $500.” Archbishhop expects that the new tie-up between CBR and IHOP will “Be great for cycling and me. Especially me.”

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Donut report 1/11/20

January 11, 2020 § 5 Comments

Today’s fireworks got started outside Hi-Fi Espresso, when I inadvertently jostled Orlando Cabanday as he was sipping a coffee. The bump sent warm coffee all over his face, down his shirt, and dripping down his chin. He began screaming “Douche! You douche! You douche!” over and over as I apologized profusely. The more I apologized, the madder he got. I couldn’t understand his preoccupation with feminine hygiene products, but I kept apologizing.

Team boss Marco Cubillos then ran over and furthered the fascination with female genitalia by yelling “You pussy!” at me as I continued to apologize. I’m sure that next week Hi-Fi will have a sign outside the door saying “No cyclists!” which won’t be a problem for Orlando as he had certainly not shown up to do the ride; when the Donut rolled out he was nowhere to be found.

Coming out of Malaga Cove, Rebekah Potter attacked and strung the 40-odd riders out into a single file, with Tom Duong second wheel. I drifted to the back as Rebekah throttled it all the way to the top of the Cove climb. Bob Reichman was totally in flog mode and went all in on every single climb.

A group of riders including Jon Petrucci, Leo Bugtai, Ivan Fernandez, and Rebekah escaped in Lunada Bay. On PV Drive West, Eric Anderson closed down most of the gap in an especially painful effort, but no one was able to come through at his speed and bring back the escapees. Certainly not me.

David Wells took a meaty pull on the downhill past the fire station but couldn’t bring back the four riders; nor could Ramon Ramos with a huge attacking effort after Portuguese Bend. Young Bearded Dude hit it on the Switchbacks and whittled down the chasers to four riders–me, Kevin Phillips, Bearded Dude, and Aaron with the Trek Jersey. Bearded Dude fell off the pace as we caught Ivan; Petrucci and Leo had shelled Rebekah as we turned up Crest.

Aaron had to pull over and undress, leaving me and Kevin to chase. I managed to get up to Rebekah’s wheel and pass her for third, with Petrucci getting the Hi-Fi coffee card and a point for the 2020 Donut Title.

From San Pedro, Jon Davy opened the throttle at the bottom of Western, with Gio DiOrio and Aaron with the Trek Jersey on his wheel. Gio and Aaron tailed off and I hung on as Davy rode at threshold all the way to Better Homes, where he deposited me like a steaming pile of daisies. The distance that Jon had put on the group was so great that I rode to the top of the Domes solo, winning my own coffee card, which was awesome. Leo and Josh Dorfman followed.

The Hawthorne sprunt promised to be a real smash-em-up, as Charon Smith, Nigel De Sota, Eric, Davy, and several other fast finishers were in attendance. Wells drilled it through Portuguese Bend, keeping it single file and safe until Nigel took over. Nigel led up the Glass Church, and though I got a small gap, I was hauled back without too much effort by the pack. By the time the sprunt rolled around, the group had been whittled down to about seven riders, with Charon taking the sprint, the point, and the coffee card.

After the sprint I kept pedaling; Leo hopped on my wheel and we poured on the coal all the way to Via Zumaya. That 3-minute section, which KOM is held by Michael Marckx from his Strava heyday of 2014, has over 12,000 attempts; Leo notched the tenth fastest ride of all time, on a leaderboard that includes TdF pro Bobby Julich, among others.

I stayed on the tempo keys until Via Fernandez, where Leo easily passed me for the Via Zumaya Donut point and coffee card; Rebekah and Josh joined us soon thereafter.

2020 Donut standings:

  1. Stathis Sakellariadis 2 points
  2. Leo Bugtai 2 points
  3. Nigel DeSota 1 point
  4. Jon Petrucci 1 point
  5. Seth Davidson 1 point
  6. Charon Smith 1 point
  7. Orlando Cabanday -100,000 points

END


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A dollop of crazy

January 10, 2020 § 16 Comments

Last January I started memorizing Chaucer. Which was weird.

I plowed through August, by which time I had The Miller’s Tale and the General Prologue memorized, and I started on The Knight’s Tale, which is a beast, well over 2,000 lines long.

I was in Vienna last August and had made up my mind to do a recitation in the First District, but my son told me it was illegal and crazy. One of those two critiques made me give up.

After that I kind of lost my drive. In late November I picked things up again and found that even though you can remember things quickly, you can forget them even quicklier. So there was a bit of re-memorizing that had to be done.

I decided in December to go to Santa Monica and do a street recitation. Burned from Vienna, I checked the law first, being a lawyer and everything. You can street perform without a permit unless you want to do it on the Third Street Promenade or near the pier, in which case you need a permit ($37) and you have to follow certain rules. The main rule is that you have to move every two hours.

If you’ve never busked, well, it’s intimidating. I found a spot, leaned my bike against a tree, and started in on The Miller’s Tale, which is in Middle English, and which sounds like babble. My heart was pounding.

It’s one thing to memorize something and recite it alone on your couch, where it’s quiet, and a whole different thing to do it with hundreds of people passing by, music in the background, and every variety of noise and racket going on.

Plus, there is performance stress. Even though no one cares, I CARE. And even though no one understands Middle English, I DO. And even though no one is listening, I AM.

A couple of people stopped and listened for a few minutes; it takes about 40 minutes to recite The Miller’s Tale. Mostly people ignored me. Another thing: Projecting your voice in open air over huge ambient racket is hard, and your voice gets tired fast. The whole thing was exhausting, slightly disappointing, but not too much.

I’d overcome a lot of fear and done a public performance. There were a lot of things to work on, things like some kind of signage so that people knew what I was doing in addition to simply being crazy.

My permit expired 12/31/19, and I did a couple of more performances. By the way, they check your permit constantly; I displayed mine in the spokes of my bike, leaned nearby.

Each time I performed it got better and a few more people stopped to listen or to video short parts of the recitation. A handful of people actually knew what it was and seemed impressed.

Now that it’s 2020, I need to go pick up my new permit.

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Kind of a long commute

January 9, 2020 § 17 Comments

Yesterday’s commute to Yucaipa using MetroLink + bike came out to just over 100 miles. I left at 5:10 AM and got home at 6:00 PM. It was pretty glorious, starting the ride in the middle of LA, then hopping off the train and pedaling from San Bernardino to Yucaipa.

There were snow-capped mountains in the background, zero traffic, wide roads, and even adventure. I got lost and had to pedal through an avocado grove as I tried to find my way onto a dirt utility road that “I was sure” led to pavement “somewhere.”

An angry farmwife came running out. “Get out of here! This is private property!”

I was already out of the grove and onto the utility road. “Sorry!” I hollered back. “I’m lost!”

“I don’t give a damn! DON’T COME BACK!”

The utility road was rough, so rough that I punctured my rear 36mm tubeless. It was my first ever puncture on a tubeless, and aside from covering my ass and backpack with sealant, it worked perfectly and I pedaled on. As I surmised, the dirt road led to pavement, then to a beautiful, short climb up Sand Canyon Road down into Yucaipa.

On the way home, while waiting for the train in San Bernardino, I ate lunch, a roast beef sandwich with cheese and bell pepper, bookended with two pieces of my homemade sourdough rye-wheat-seet bread. I washed it down with coffee.

Inside the train a guy parked his bike next to mine. “Hey, man,” he said. “How far you going on that thing?”

“About a hundred. You?”

“I don’t know how far, man, but I ride every day to the station, that’s about thirty minutes one way, then I get to San Bernardino, and that’s another thirty minutes to my job, so about two hours every day.”

His bike was a cruiser with fat tires and wide handlebars. “How long you been doing that?”

“Six months, man. I lost my car from a DUI. At first I was bummed because all my friends was like, ‘Man, you riding a bike? That’s bullshit.’ But then I lost a ton of weight man.”

“I bet.”

“Yeah, I still got a little bit to go but I feel great now and my friends don’t say shit no more. They’re still real overweight, man. And you know what?”

“What?”

“I used to be angry all the time. I had all these voices in my head, man. And since I started riding this bike, man, I don’t hear no voices no more. And I ain’t angry for no reason no more. It’s weird.”

“That’s great.”

“And you know what else?”

“What?”

“My cholesterol and shit is way down, man. I ain’t got no blood pressure no more, neither.”

“Blood pressure sucks,” I agreed.

“Yeah, man. But you know what my old lady says?”

“What?”

“She’s like, ‘You smiling all the time.’ She likes that a lot, man. When your old lady is like down with you being in a good mood then she gets in a good mood and you know what that means.”

“Indeed I do.”

He chuckled as if he were thinking of something pleasant. “Yeah, I used to be grumpy and scowling and shit all the time but now I’m just smiling. Like, I’m happy, man.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“Shit, man, I know why that is.”

“Why?”

He pointed to the bike. “This baby here, man. Right here.”

END


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Who's zoomin' who?

January 7, 2020 § 5 Comments

Today is Carmaggeddon #104. Things have changed since Day 1, way back in the Stone Age on August 17, 2019.

I saw Ryan Dahl at the BWR movie a few weeks ago. “Are you over it yet?” he asked with a knowing smile.

“Yes,” I said. “Way over it.”

And I saw Kevin Nix at a New Year’s Party. “Do you miss driving?” he asked with a knowing smile.

“Yes,” I said, “like I miss drinking beer.”

Those two interchanges sum it up. Commuting all over Southern California, plus the occasional group ride when I can, is not exciting anymore. It has become a dispassionate calculation of time and energy. “How long will it take to get there and how will it fit in with the other riding I have to do?”

Have to do.

Not want to do.

Have to do.

And the second part is that driving has a wistful allure to it, like being drunk does. I know it is sweet and comforting, and know that with it in my life things have a dreamy quality. But I also know that without it my life is better. Harsher, less forgiving, more comprehensible, more clear, a chocolate cake without the frosting, maybe without the chocolate, but refreshing and beautiful, like clear water.

I’m thinking about that a lot right now as I plan tomorrow’s commute to Yucaipa. Even with the train it will be a 100-mile+ day. Followed by the Flog on Thursday …

But even when I have my doubts, someone will end up sending me something juicy that convinces me that I’m doing the right thing the right way. Like this article, emailed to me by Jordan Schaffel, which pins the fucking tail right where it belongs, not on bike lanes and infrastructure or even on vehicular cycling, but rather on CARS.

The reason kids and adults keep getting hurt and killed while on bicycles is the same reason that skunks and possums and armadillos do. People in cars run them over. The more people you have sitting in cars, the more they will run over people who are walking or bicycling.

This story about Oslo, and what it really takes to hit Vision 0, is a hard fact that infrastructure dorks like Peter Flax and vehicular cyclists like John Forester have a hard time acknowledging: the cheapest, fastest, most efficient, safest, and healthiest way to improve the quality of life for all people–whether they are sitting within cars or without–is to reduce the number of cars. The Vision 0 is the vision of zero cars.

Oslo points strongly to this conclusion: that people in cars aren’t compatible with people outside them. We now have over 1 billion motor vehicles on earth, or roughly one for every 7 people. Is that too many? Only if you ever plan on getting out of the vehicle and using your legs, and don’t laugh. That is for sure the plan of the great majority of people in the USA.

At this intersection, the opposing poles of Flax and Forester run into trouble, because they both love cars, depend on cars, and can’t imagine an environment without them, or even one that greatly restricts their range, ownership, and use. NYC as a no-car zone? That would fix the problem. DTLA without a single car? The city’s green paint budge would be zero.

This sounds about as sane and achievable as not letting people have guns.

As the questions by Ryan and Kevin reveal, something much stronger is at work than the safety, happiness, and quality of life for kids and adults who walk and bicycle. It’s the convenience of being able to do so many things without having to exert your own body. I could tell you that a gallon of milk on my back, along with a 5-pound lock and cable, climbing 900 feet to my apartment, is a very different proposition from hauling those same items in a 5,000-lb. car by simply pressing the gas pedal.

But you know what?

Until you have to do it, you probably won’t ever know.

END


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